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What We Do

Empower AI uses innovative technologies and their specialized platform to support federal missions and empower agency personnel to solve unique government challenges​.


Robert Shook - Army Counterintelligence and Technical Security Specialist

From Army counterintelligence to technical security specialist, Robert Shook has made service his...

Katrina Whitenack - Army Combat Medic and Medical Reviewer

After 5 years in the Army, Katrina Whitenack turned her experience as a Combat Medic into a succe...

Judith Buford - Naval Reservist and Medical Reviewer

Judith Buford uses her experience in organization and time management from her time as a Naval Re...






Nursing & Healthcare

Celebrating Culture



Robert Shook - Army Counterintelligence and Technical Security Specialist

What inspired you to join the military?

I was raised in a patriotic family by God-fearing parents who encouraged us to live a life of service. Our family was large, and my father, a career firefighter, brought in enough money for our daily needs but not enough to put us through college. I worked full-time while attending college, and after five years of schooling with credits for three academic years, some Vietnam vets at my summer job convinced me to consider the military. The recruiters discussed options based on my testing, and in July of 1979, I joined the Army, attended basic in SC, and then went to the Intelligence School at Ft Huachuca, AZ.

What was your role during your time of service?

I was an Army Counterintelligence Special Agent my whole career (25 years) with specialized training in security technologies. CI Agents were trained and appointed to conduct CI investigations and operations supporting the Army, the DoD, and, in my case, NATO and other allies. The authority and jurisdiction for Army CI Special Agents includes investigating national security crimes using special investigative procedures, conducting counterintelligence operations, conducting both surveillance and counter-surveillance activities, and supporting counter-terrorism operations as authorized by Executive Order 12333 and applicable regulations.

What are some key achievements from your time in the service?

I was selected for and attended Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) training before my third year in the Army was finished, which set the path of my career. In 1995, I was assigned to the Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) at Ft Belvoir. LIWA was a newly created unit with a mission to develop intelligence support to the emerging information warfare and cyber threats across the DoD; LIWA is now the 1st Information Operations Command (Land), with an ever-expanding cyber and information operations mission.

My next assignment sent me back to Belgium for my third tour supporting the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). In August 2001, I was deployed to Skopje, Macedonia, to conduct CI liaison with the Macedonian military and the UN mission in support of the reconstruction of Kosovo. While in Skopje, the 9/11 attacks occurred, and our liaison efforts produced valuable counter-terrorism support to the NATO forces and the US embassy. My final assignment was as the Army TSCM PM, providing oversight and managerial support to all Army TSCM assets worldwide.

Why is it important that we celebrate Veterans Day as a nation?

In the US, Veterans Day is a time to remember and honor the service and sacrifices veterans have made throughout history to protect the United States, particularly in times of war. To quote President Ronald Reagan (1983), “Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom, for they’ve suffered the scars of war. We can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us.”

How do you recognize Veterans Day and Military Family Appreciation Month?

My wife, also a veteran, and I will often meet with friends from our many assignments to share time and comradery with them. This year, however, we are focused on my wife’s family, who have served in an active duty position or as a federal employee in the DoD.

What is your role at Empower AI?

Our team supports the US Capitol Police Special Security Bureau. Specifically, I am on the team providing technical security, technical countermeasures, and counterintelligence expertise to the mission of the USCP.

How do you use the skills you learned in the military today?

The foundation of all my security, technologies, and investigations expertise is based on my Army career.

Diana Blessing - Quality Assurance Specialist

What inspired you to get involved in volunteering?

I have always had trouble with public speaking, but in high school I had an opportunity to be in a play and by slipping into another character I was able to find a voice that I could then carry into other areas of my life. Chesterfield Children’s Theatre (CCT) provides that opportunity to kids at a younger age, those who attend schools where the arts funding has been cut, those that are not cast due to competition in their school or even adults that are looking to improve in this area or take advantage of an opportunity that did not exist for them before.

Are there any specific challenges or obstacles the organization has faced along the way, and how did you and the organization overcome the challenges?

Our biggest challenge as a nonprofit organization is how to raise funds to support our programming while keeping the cost down for our families. CCT does not charge any fees to participate and if something does need to be purchased, such as a piece for a costume, we will help to cover the cost for families that have multiple participants, or a financial hardship. We are always accepting donations, partnering with local restaurants and other businesses to hold events where a portion of the proceeds come back to our group, in addition to the obvious ticket sales and snack bar proceeds from each show.

What are some of the key achievements in your volunteering that you are proud of?

I don’t know if proud is the right word, but the things I enjoy most with this activity are seeing the kids gain confidence, become more comfortable with public speaking, become more outgoing, and form friendships with each other. I like it when people that would not otherwise have an opportunity due to disability light up when they realize they can participate with us and the relief on the parents faces when they realize they do not have to tell their kids ‘no’ because of money. I am proud of the work that the board and I did during the pandemic to find ways to keep the theater going even when we could not put on shows, so that future participants can experience all of the above and more with us.

Can you share any advice for others?

This is not just for theater it really applies to everything: Just get out there and try it. Do not worry about if you are good at first, you will get better with practice.

What motivates you to continue pushing boundaries and striving for excellence in your volunteering activities?

Performing arts, arts in general, are being cut from schools as budget constraints get tighter and tighter. Studies have shown the benefits to mental health, confidence, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills that are gained when kids have access to arts programming. While I have focused here on Chesterfield Children’s Theatre due to my involvement with the board, I do also participate with Concert Ballet of Virginia, and Broken Leg Theater, because I believe those groups are integral to making sure that kids still have those opportunities for growth and development.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the organizations?

We have a performance of Rainbow Fish in late April at Elizabeth Davis Middle School. If you are in the Richmond, VA area, please come by and support us. This is a beginner’s show with about half our cast being ages 3-6. Tickets are available at the door or on For information about upcoming auditions or shows you can also follow us on Facebook.

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